Isaiah 12–17: Burdens & Refuge

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 3: Friday

For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand,
who can turn it back?

Isaiah 14:27

Today’s Bible reading is Isaiah 12–17.  Chapter 12 is a song of praise of the remnant. If you look back to chapter 11, you can see that this is a remnant God has yet to gather, and this song is to be sung in the future by God’s people.

Chapter 13 begins a section that continues to the end of chapter 23:  God’s sovereign judgment of the nations.1 Derek Kidner writes:

“…these chapters teach a primary and central truth: that Yahweh’s kingdom is the world. This is easy to announce in general terms; to spell it out, as this section does, is to show that this sovereignty is nothing titular, but actual and searching.

“The oracles were given at various times (cf. 14:28; 20:1); brought together they form a prelude to the world-visions of chs. 24–27, and an interlude between the prediction of the Assyrian crisis in chs. 1–12 and its onset in chs. 28–39.”2

As you read, remember to look for a greater understanding of who God is, even when you do not understand all of the circumstances or events. There is not time in these posts covering large amounts of the Bible to go into details, nor can these posts be a substitute for in depth Bible study.

As I wrote two weeks ago, when you watch someone’s actions, you learn about who that person is.  You also gain knowledge of who a person is when you understand someone’s thoughts—whether through conversation or through writing.  In the prophets you will read what God revealed to His prophets regarding His actions and His thoughts.  You will also learn about people, and as you learn about people, obviously, you will learn about yourself.

Chapters 13–14:23 contain the oracle concerning Babylon; Assyria and Philistia are mentioned briefly at the end of chapter 14.  Chapters 15–16 contain the oracle concerning Moab.  Chapter 17 contains the oracle concerning Damascus.  The word translated as oracle is a word meaning burden:3

“…a prophetical speech of a threatening or minatory character…The word appears twenty-seven times, only in prophetic contexts, with the exceptions of Prov. 30:1; 31:1….

“…it was a burden, not just a prophecy or utterance!

“Isaiah uses this burden form for his messages against the foreign nations.  It occurs ot [sic] 13:1 (Babylon), 14:28 (Philistia), 15:1 (Moab), 17:1 (Damascus); 19:1 (Egypt), 21:1 (Babylon), 21:11 (Dumah), 21:13 (Arabia), 22:1 (Valley of Vision), and 23:1 (Tyre).  He also uses it in the midst of his six woes in 30:6 (the beasts of the Negeb). These messages are all minatory in nature, although occasionally there is subjoined a rose-tinted promise such as the one in Isa 19:16–25).”4

As you read these chapters you understand why judgment is coming: evil, iniquity, arrogance, pride, ruthlessness—oppression that has caused pain and turmoil.

There is instruction and warning in chapter 17 from which we can learn:

“In that day man will have regard for his Maker
And his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah 17:7


“For you have forgotten the God of your salvation
And have not remembered the rock of your refuge.
Therefore you plant delightful plants
And set them with vine slips of a strange god.
In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in,
And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom;
But the harvest will be a heap
In a day of sickliness and incurable pain.”
Isaiah 17:10–11

These chapters teach us that the pride of men and of powerful nations is as nothing before God.  He is sovereign, and He will bring judgment upon them for their deeds.  Isaiah’s prophecies were burdens on the nations, because they were judgments.

God’s people must remember to have regard for God alone and remember that He alone is the rock of our refuge.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2Derek Kidner, “Isaiah,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 599.
3, 4R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the
Old Testament
, vol. 2, p. 1422.
Fire/Flame Textures:

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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